Round Twenty Two – Well, Wasn’t That Fun!

FinalsSchedule

The League announced the finals schedule during an ad break on Channel Seven’s Dancing With The Stars

WatsonDancer

…and it looks like Tim Watson grabbed one of the latin dancers from the show to help him!

And just like that, the AFL home-and-away season is done and dusted. It only seems like yesterday that Richmond was being destroyed by Carlton in the season opener, doesn’t it? Actually, no it doesn’t! Season 2009 has been so eventful and action packed that it has felt like this long-standing, never-ending provider of highlights, lowlights and bizarre occurrences. Hard to believe that it is now over…

But never fear, we have a finals campaign that will undoubtedly provide even more of the wonderful, the weird and the wackiness that we’ve come to expect from footy these days. And if round twenty two is anything to go by, this year’s finals series is going to be plenty wacky! It started with (yet) another deplorable showing from Richmond against a West Coast team that the Herald Sun flat-out accused of tanking in order to qualify for a priority draft pick yet ended up winning eight games and would have finished above Hawthorn had they snuck a ninth win! What chance they receive a well-deserved apology from the hacks? Hmmm, not great…

The round then finished with the Western Bulldogs winning by just enough points to leapfrog Collingwood into third spot on the ladder; meaning that they now face the (seemingly) more vulnerable Geelong and the Pies are relegated to fourth and a date with the (almost) all-conquering Saints. But it was the events on the Saturday afternoon of the final round that will be remembered for a very long time to come…

LloydSewell

Clearly Matthew Lloyd didn’t read any of those articles about the bump being dead last week. He should probably avoid reading the papers this week as well!

The playoff for eighth spot always promised to be memorable for one reason or another. And if you thought Essendon and Hawthorn hated each other before Saturday’s game…how about now! Bombers captain Matthew Lloyd’s attempt to exert some influence on the second half ended up with Brad Sewell ironed out on the ground, sparking a wild response from the Hawks that continued on after the match. This included coach Alastair Clarkson going off his nut as he left the ground and hardnut Campbell Brown talking all sorts of smack from the rooms.

CaMMMpbellBrown

Pot-Kettle? Takes one to know one? Stones-Glass Houses? Own backyard? Call it what you like, they all seem to work in this case!

Essendon took charge in the second half to qualify for September, something Matthew Knights feels they deserve but it’s a view not shared by their opposition. For the Hawks, who lost control of their composure and the match following The Incident, it was a frustrating end to an equally frustrating season that saw them behind the eight-ball all year as they tried to defend their fine win in 2008. They will be back in 2010, and regardless of whether Mr Lloyd is still available, that first Hawks-Bombers match will be…emotional!

KennettBananas

Embarrassing yourself by going bezerk at the umpires while your wife/girlfriend/significant-other looks away and laughs at you! Don’t worry Jeff, it’s happened to all of us!!!

Essendon’s win left us with the potential of a blockbuster elimination final at the ‘G against Carlton. All the Blues needed to do was claim fifth place on Saturday evening…but no! Now both teams head interstate this weekend and will probably head home with their season over, free to drink as much alcohol as they can manage on the flight back! The Blues might feel they will be better off for banning three players for a spot of tardiness but what they really need is a mature response this week in an elimination final is Brisbane. Yep, a team with Brendan Fevola needs to show maturity…gulp!

MickyOver

Cheer up, Micky O! What’s that? It’s your last game? Oh. In that case, cry away!

The final round of the season also gave us the opportunity to bid farewell to those who are giving the game away. This resulted in some emotional matches; particularly in Sydney for some premiership heroes, at Melbourne for some club stalwarts, and at Richmond…where most of them should probably give it away! Then again, maybe next year the Tigers can start to bounce back and gain respectability in the footy world again. There is always next year…

The Games:

RelievedRawlings

Jade Rawlings contemplates all those weeks of his life that he can never have back!

Good luck Dimma…you’re gunna need it! West Coast embarrass Richmond in the final game of the season to reinforce the massive task Damien Hardwick has in front of him. The cull has started already but there could be plenty more on the way out if Richmond are to become relevant again any time soon!

HardwickMessage

Hardwick’s first move at Richmond? Installing a very large door…preferably extra wide!

OttensBack

Brad Ottens is back for Geelong! That makes things interesting…

Geelong eased into another finals campaign in a dawdle against Fremantle at Kardinia Park, the most notable event was Brad Ottens not crumpling in a heap in his comeback from a long-tern knee injury. The Dockers can now prepare for 2010 where they will aim to improve their performances on the road and figure out whether it is worth holding onto Paul Hasleby.

And congratulations to Geelong’s Gazy Ablett on winning the Brownlow Medal! That’s what the Herald Sun online reckons…hang on a sec! Who is Gazy? Bit of a mix-up between the formal Gary and the nickname Gazza I suppose. But if you are going to spell a player’s name wrong, it probably shouldn’t be arguably the best player in the game…and one that actually works for your organisation!

GazyAblett

Let’s hope they get Gary’s name right on the medal…if he wins it, of course!

MichaelHurley

As an Essendon supporter, can I just say – I love Michael Hurley!

First Buddy, then Bailey (poor kid!) and finally Brad Sewell…but the worst B-word for Hawthorn on Saturday was Bombers!  They all conspired against the Hawks as they went from premiers to outsiders in the space of eleven months. Essendon now have a finals campaign to prepare for and feel that they are not cannon fodder for the Crows. Mmm, not so sure about that…

Oh yeah…the game got a bit fiery too!

CyrilRioli

As a football fan, can I just say – I love Cyril Rioli!

BurtonMOTY

This guy is over thirty and coming off a knee reco? That’s un-freakin-believable!!!

Carlton’s timing has been off all week. It started with three players missing a recovery session and being dropped from Saturday’s match and ended with the team missing a great opportunity to play their first final in ages in front of their home crowd. Adelaide crushed the Blues and looked scary good in the process…no wonder Neil Craig and co. are thinking big things!

ClarkScreamer

This would be mark of the year most seasons. But thanks to the Birdman, it wasn’t even the best grab we saw that day!

Space was the final frontier in Star Trek but Michael Voss is probably not into all that sci-fi bulldust! For him, Sydney was the final frontier…which his team has now conquered! The Lions crashed the Swans farewell party and set up a big gathering of their own at the Gabba next weekend against Carlton. Retiring Swan Michael O’Loughlin thinks that his club will never bottom out…they can’t afford to!

HappyChoco

Is it just me or is Mark Williams a little bit too excited that these two veterans are calling it quits?

Port Adelaide are no St Kilda but the Kangaroos managed a second tight upset win in succession…though it is hard to classify any win over Port as an upset these days. In front of very few fans, the Power tried to lift for their retiring stars but still couldn’t stop the determined Roos in the final minutes. They can feel dudded by a late fifty-metre penalty awarded against them if that makes them feel better…but the call was right so it’s a waste of time!

RiewoldtOK

The St Kilda doctor stood next to Nick Riewoldt all day just in case he got hurt. Thumbs up…he’s OK!

All St Kilda wanted to do was run around on the MCG and not get hurt. Mission accomplished…we think. Melbourne wanted to celebrate their retiring champs…just not with a win. They didn’t and they now have access to the best two kids in the country. Forget Robbo, Wheatley and Whelan…the players should have chaired off Tom Scully after the match!

DoggiesThird

They had the game in the bag but Jonno’s late goal gave the Doggies third spot!

It was a footy statistician’s wet dream! Two good teams fighting for ladder position and it went down to the final minute…it was the Western Bulldogs who claimed the prize and head into September choc full of confidence. Will slipping to fourth on the back of this effort cost Collingwood dearly? Mick Malthouse hopes the loss will be a wake-up call for his side. Personally, I hope they don’t get the wake-up call until it’s too late – Betts-Garlett-Cloke style!

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